The Great Tax Wars

The Great Tax Wars

Lincoln to Wilson--The Fierce Battles over Money and Power That Transformed the Nation

A major work of history, The Great Tax Wars is the gripping, epic story of six decades of often violent conflict over wealth, power, and fairness that gave America the income tax. It's the story of a tumultuous period of radical change, from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War through the progressive era under Theodore Roosevelt and ending with Woodrow Wilson and World War I. During these years of upheaval, America was transformed from an agrarian society into a mighty industrial nation, great fortunes were amassed, farmers and workers rebelled, class war was narrowly averted, and America emerged as a global power.
The Great Tax Wars features an extraordinary cast of characters, including the men who built the nation's industries and the politicians and reformers who battled them -- from J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie to Lincoln, T.R., Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, and Eugene Debs. From their ferocious battles emerged a more flexible definition of democracy, economic justice, and free enterprise largely framed by a more progressive tax system. In this groundbreaking book, Weisman shows how the ever controversial income tax transformed America and how today's debates about the tax echo those of the past.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743243810 | 
  • November 2004
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: "Circumstances Most Unpropitious and Forbidding"

The Civil War Begins

"Money!" Abraham Lincoln exclaimed. "I don't know anything about 'money.'"

The President was typically modest, evasive and adept at feigning ignorance when he did not want to be pinned down. At a meeting with a delegation of New York bankers and financiers well into the Civil War, Lincoln fully understood that the United States needed money to save the Union. So did Lincoln's anxious Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase. From the conflict's outset, the Union had had to fight while nearly broke. Chase's initial estimate after the taking of... see more

About the Author

Steven R. Weisman
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Steven R. Weisman

Steven R. Weisman is the chief diplomatic correspondent of The New York Times. An award-winning journalist, he has covered politics, economics, and international affairs for more than thirty years. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife, Elisabeth Bumiller, and two children.

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